The White Sox maintained their three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night.
Pitcher Gavin Floyd (10-10) allowed two runs early, but settled in to work seven strong innings. Alejandro De Aza, Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios hit solo home runs, and Matt Thornton and Addison Reed combined for two innings of hitless relief in the win.
It occurred to me the Sox have done a good job in these one-run affairs the second half of the season. The Tigers, not so much. I looked up the numbers, and indeed, there is a stark contrast.
White Sox record in one-run games since July 31: 11-4 (.733 winning percentage)
Tigers record in one-run games since July 31: 2-13 (.133 winning percentage)
Detroit has lost its last 10 one-run games. That's remarkable. You would think the Tigers would have pulled out one of those 10 just on accident. They have not.
Certainly, the Tigers didn't have to worry about winning a close game on Tuesday. They throtted the Oakland A's 12-2 to keep pace with the Sox.
But, the win came at a cost. Right-hander Max Scherzer left the game after two innings and had an MRI done on his pitching shoulder. The exam showed no structural damage, but Scherzer will go a couple days without throwing before being evaluated again.
Scherzer entered Tuesday's action with a 16-6 record and a 3.77 ERA, to go along with a major league-leading 220 strikeouts. He has been the team's most effective pitcher in the second half. If he cannot pitch down the stretch, it would be a huge loss for the Tigers. They would have no choice but to put left-hander Drew Smyly back in the rotation.
Not that Smyly isn't capable -- he's serviceable. But I'm sure teams remaining on Detroit's schedule would much rather face Smyly than Scherzer.